A Tea Party Dilemma

May 23rd, 2010

By Larry Ennis

The Tea Party has become a rallying point for a great number of voters who feel they have been used by the Washington bureaucrats. The Tea Party was instrumental in getting Republican Scott Brown elected to the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. Of special significance was the fact that the state had gone with Brown after being a Democratic stronghold for forty years or more. Brown, having been involved in state politics before being elected Senator, wasn’t a novice by any means. He was savvy and bigger than life in a political sense. The Tea Party could rack up a point for their side.

The recent primaries gave the Tea Party a chance to make a difference again. Their biggest victory was in Kentucky. Rand Paul, with the help of the Tea Party, won the right to run as the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. Mr. Paul is a rank beginner and as such is a lamb in a land of wolves. The two principle and only parties of note in this country don’t take to newbies very well. Paul has incurred the wrath of both parties. The Republicans had someone else in mind and the Democrats dislike anyone who represents a threat in the November elections, especially the upstarts from the Tea Party.

The Tea Party is very naive, as is Mr. Paul. Their lack of savvy was showcased when Paul allowed himself to be ambushed by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC (video). He allowed Maddow to positively destroy him. I don’t suppose anyone told him to stay away from Maddow if at all possible. She, like her friend Chris Matthews, likes to bask in the glory of a good blood-letting of some poor conservative or Tea Party person. Anyone who thinks there is still respect and civility in American politics needs to read the Swampland post linked to above and watch the video of the Maddow interview.

It’s easy enough to see that politics isn’t for the weak. Rand Paul has shown early on that he doesn’t have a clue about how to handle himself when confronted by the likes of Ms. Maddow. Such a lack of savvy and moxie makes both Paul and the Tea Party look woefully unprepared to take on the establishment. Paul and the Tea Party need the likes of a James Carville or a Carl Rove, a handler with the temper of a pit bull or the silence of mean snake — someone who can devour the Rachel Maddows of the world without even breathing hard. Tea Party, it’s time to get tough.

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21 Responses to “A Tea Party Dilemma”

  1. d |

    Don’t think Carl Rove drinks tea. Need to step up their game,for sure, or will dissapear in a whirlwind of O’Reillys and Maddows and Matthews. Never underestimate the talk show folks power. They can destroy a career,or a movement.

  2. Tom Carter |

    This is an insightful take on the tea party movement and on the Rand Paul candidacy. However, I don’t think the Swampland item is that bad, for an openly liberal point of view. The Maddow interview was tough, but Paul mostly brought it on himself, as you indicated. Not only should he have been more wary of Maddow, he should have been politically smart enough not to make those comments to begin with. As you say, he’s naive.

    As for the substance of his views on civil rights rules placed by the government on business owners, I’m of two opinions.

    Instinctively, I don’t like the idea of government intrusion on the operation of private businesses. If I own a bar or restaurant, say, I should be able to restrict my services to the people I want to serve, and I should be allowed to run my business the way I want. If I want to serve only white smokers, I should be able to do that. If I can’t make a profit that way, because non-smokers won’t come or non-racist whites don’t want to be there, I’ll have to either change my policies or go broke.

    But that’s just an instinctive reaction. I don’t want a country where racism in businesses is tolerated, and I can live with (reluctantly) restrictions on smokers. I think the government has a valid and constitutional interest in preventing socially unacceptable and offensive behavior, like open racism in particular, so I can live with laws that prevent that from happening.

  3. larry ennis |

    So Very True.
    Paul didn’t know what hit him. Matter of fact, I’m not sure he has figured it out yet. This episode is proof of what was discussed here on Opinion Forum a couple of days ago concerning Information Control. Maddow set the stage to insure that Paul and the Tea Party would be forced to defend his veiws on the civil rights act. At the same time she gave his democratic opponent a real advantage in the up coming November election.

  4. d |

    I viewed that interview,he worries me. I think his views will put this country back 50 years,if his party[tea] gets to be in power. Allowing private business to decide how racist,and socially offensive they want to be,is a step backward.Some would still make money, while being racist,due to having a large clientel of white supremicist,and KKK.
    This is a slippery slope the tea partiers are sliding down,I hope they lose their balance and show their true colors,racism.

  5. larry ennis |

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself, however I doubt that racism per se is the driving force among the Tea Party members. We need to keep in mind that any great change or upheaval in the so- called entitlements would reek havoc on most of our older people. The loss of entitlement income caused by providing healthcare and other benefits to immigrants and low income minorities cannot be instituted without causing resentment among those of us asked to share the wealth so to speak. Calling such resentment racism misses the mark and is untrue.

  6. Brian Bagent |

    Doris, please point to anything in the constitution that authorizes the federal government to stop racism. Racism is an ugly thing, but a government that acts outside of its legitimate authority* is an even uglier thing, for it imperils us all.

    *legitimate authority being defined as powers specifically authorized by the constitution – anything else is, by definition, unconstitutional

  7. d |

    so,we should become like Germany, Africa,or other places that do not protect it’s people from racism? Well,Brian,a Gov. that ignores racism is a comunist one,in my opinion,and I would not want to live there.
    Larry,so you don’t see the racism in Rand Pauls statememts? I do.
    I think you would be wearing blinders to not see it or hear it.

  8. d |

    Besides that,Brian when the constitution was written,we had slaves,enough said.

  9. larry ennis |

    Did you see the interview between Maddow and Paul? The question was about retaining the right to refuse service to a prospective business customer. Paul expressed the opinion that a business owner should have the right to refuse. This is a tricky area to let yourself get lead into and a real mine field if your running for office. Paul didn’t question the Civil Rights Act or its intent. Maddow knew that she was setting the man up and because he was honest it was a massacre. She never gave him a chance to reply once he saw what was happening.
    The problem is that like it or not you’re having to take away the right of the business owner in order to guarantee the right of the customer. The use of race as justification to give preferential treatment to the customer at the expense of the businessman is a violation of that mans Constitutional right, no more, no less.
    Brian was right in what he said about racism and the Constitution.
    Political correctness is nice but not always right. If this nation has to continue on while hobbled by the notion that racism is the only problem we have, we’re in serious trouble.

  10. Brian Bagent |

    “Besides that,Brian when the constitution was written,we had slaves,enough said.”

    No, actually, it isn’t. If you wish to empower the federal government to deal with issues of racism, then amend the constitution as we did in 1866 when the 13th amendment was ratified.

    What sets us apart from those countries you mentioned is that our government is actually limited by its founding document. Or more accurately, it is supposed to be.

    Ultimately, there are only two forms of government in existence: those with clearly defined and limited powers, and those with unlimited powers. There is nothing in between.

    As I pointed out earlier, racism is an ugly thing, but a government unfettered by rules is a much, much uglier thing.

  11. Brianna Aubin |

    “I think the government has a valid and constitutional interest in preventing socially unacceptable and offensive behavior, like open racism in particular, so I can live with laws that prevent that from happening.”

    Oh really? And how long do you think your freedoms of speech and expression would be protected once you had given government the power to decide what would be “offensive”? All you have to do is look at Canada’s “Human Rights” Commissions to know that the answer is “not very long.”

    I would not dream of leveling an accusation of racism, sexism or discrimination against any individual unless I was absolutely positive that I was right, because I know perfectly well that to do so would have consequences in their lives and careers that were almost as serious as they would be if I simply took a gun to their head and pulled the trigger. Believe me when I point out that if the people around you know you hold a view which is completely socially unacceptable to society at large, that your life will be negatively affected and your views suppressed in methods far more effective than anything government could ever hope to bring to bear.

    Government does not have the right to tell you what to think. Even in cases where what they’re telling you to think is in fact correct, as it was in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the damage done by the precedent far outweighs the good gained through the enforcement of the correct opinion. Not to mention that in an age where we continually lament the fact that politicians tend to be spineless rags who say whatever they think the public wants to hear, we should be applauding Rand Paul’s courage in voicing an honest opinion no matter how vehemently we disagree with it.

    Ezra Levant and the Canadian “HRC.” Please watch this video. If doing so doesn’t put a chill down your spine then I am utterly at a loss to determine what will.


  12. d |

    People unfettered by rules,an even uglier thing. This is like when Mormons,who can’t drink tea or coffee,decide it is o.k. to consume large quantities of sodas,containing caffeine. Soda,not invented in bibical days,God,didn’t know about it to say it was a bad drug,having caffeine,in both tea and coffee. How could the constitution talk of racism,when its founding fathers were racist and owned slaves,but did not know how evil and vile this was. Whites believed blacks and other ethnicities were inferior to them in all ways. Well,laws prevent that now,just like laws prevent drug sales,that were not invented then. Laws prevent lots of perversions that weren’t heard of then. Too many amendments to make,just make laws,and we did.
    Larry I did view the interview,always blame a good interviewer for our stupidity,like Clinton,ambushed by his own inadequicies,and mistakes,not set up,and innocent. Real views came out in that stressful moment,and business owners do not have the right to refuse service because of race,thank the law. They cannot refuse to hire blacks because they are black,thank the laws. The constitution is based on the thoughts of an old time and needs to be updated,for sure,but it cannot be our only law,just too much other stuff to protect and defend. Hire solely because of race:not for,but to hire color blind:for.

  13. Brian Bagent |

    “People unfettered by rules,an even uglier thing.”

    It would seem, then, that you do not believe that as a people we are leading upright lives. Perhaps this experiment in freedom was doomed from the beginning, as we are no longer a nation of r religious and moral people.

    “Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams, 2nd president of the United States (1797 – 1801)

    Do you grasp the fact that if people must be forced, by law, to do “the right thing,” that they are not free? The underlying assumption here is that the political class knows more about righteousness and morality than we do for our own selves. That would be funny if it weren’t so scary.

    Freedom means the autonomy to choose, even if the choice is poor and self-destructive. I’d much rather deal with an avaricious man, or even a group of them, than an avaricious government. There is no escaping the avaricious government.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), English theologian and novelist (“Chronicles of Narnia”)

  14. larry ennis |

    Bless your heart, you’re a fighter. I applaude your tenacious spirit. Your belief that not being swayed by the likes of Rachel Maddow is an indication of stupidity on my part is a “Tad” unfair. I cannot agree with your assertion that the Constitution is outdated and should be revised. The very thought scares me.
    Paul may well be ruined as an office seeker. The pitiful part of his dilemma is the fact that his only sin was to give an honest answer to a question asked by the interviewer. Paul should have exercised the first rule of politics which is ” never tell someone what they need to hear but instead what they want to hear”. Sad to say that in today’s political arena it better to be caught telling a lie than to be caught telling the truth.

    Hang in there Doris!

  15. d |

    Racial discrimination was overwhelming during our era of doing the right thing,apparently no one told the slave mongers and then,most southern people, that this was not the right thing to do. Where were there basic morals? No one told all the Nazis,either,how moral most of them were supposed to be. Hmm,maybe we need some rules to live by. Maybe we aren’t all sweet and innocent.
    Larry,sorry dude,I do not think you are stupid,in any way. I do,however think P{aul showed his true colors,pun intended.

  16. Brian Bagent |

    Doris, when it comes to law, things must be done for the right reason, and even more importantly, they must be done in the right way. Ignoring the constitution in order to “do the right thing” is not doing the right thing at all, for it will only serve to encourage our governors to do even more of the right thing, even if that “right thing” is in clear contravention to the constitution.

    A perfect case in point is Kagan’s view of the 1st amendment. The federal government has been winking and nodding at the 9th and 10th amendments for years. It has been winking and nodding at Art I Sec. 8 for years. It has been doing the same with the 2nd amendment. How long before it begins to wink and nod at the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments?

    When one law outside the bounds of the constitution is permitted, what are our grounds for denying any other law that might come down the pike? The constitution is the line in the sand. It has been stepped on, danced on, and pretty much erased. We no longer have a line we can tell them to not cross. We can no longer tell them, “you have come here, and no further will you go” because by crossing the line just once, and not being held to account for it, we have permitted them to do whatever it is they wish.

    As a matter of politics and legalities, it is a far easier thing to deal with what is or is not constitutional than to deal with what sorts of extraconstitutional abuses we are willing to let slide.

    The only answer which has any hope at all of keeping the federal government in check is to force it to abide by the letter and intent of the constitution. The constitution may not be perfect, but it beats the alternative of having a government unrestrained by it, shortcomings and all.

  17. Dan Miller |

    I become discouraged when I read the words “tea” and “party” with initial caps as though it were an actual political party. It is not and in my view should not be. It is, and should be, a diverse collection of individuals united only on the most basic of principles: I think there are three:

    respect for the Constitution, America’s safety, and minimal governmental meddling. The focus cannot be allowed to slide to more contentious issues such as abortion, gay marriage, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the like. There are many who support respect for the Constitution, America’s safety, and minimal governmental meddling but who also favor abortion rights; there are some agnostics and I am one of them. There are also homosexual conservatives; if they support the basic goals, they should not be excluded. We need their support. Once there is a responsible and responsive government, these issues can be debated. The best place to do it would be at the state level; the states are diverse and their residents — not the federal government — should govern them.

    Incredible though it may seem, there may be some Democrats who support the basic principles, and there may be some Republicans who don’t. As noted by Lloyd Marcus,

    [T]he feelings, thoughts, and opinions of tea party patriots are all over the place. What a mess! Well, I say, how wonderful! I mean, think about it. Millions of Americans who have been passively watching our country slipping away for years are suddenly passionately seeking to restore it. So frankly, I do not care if the movement is a bit wild and free. Scott Brown’s shocking, historic win in Massachusetts confirms that we are making a huge difference.

    That some in the tea party tent who are running for office are inexperienced as politicians, and currently lack the savvy to deal with the same media folks who trashed Governor Palin during her vice presidential campaign is worrisome. They need some experience — probably less than President Obama has thus far acquired in doing the job to which he was elected. However, how can we expect there to be changes in Washington and in state and local government if we continue to re-elect those who have learned to dodge questions with finesse and to make claims they know are wrong and promises they bloody well know will never be kept? Basic honesty can’t be learned; to learn how to deal effectively with the press is possible.

    I observed here, a couple of months ago, that

    So long as both major parties are focused principally on their short-term tactical goals of winning the 2010 congressional elections, as distinguished from the long-term strategic goal of achieving what’s best for the future of the United States, neither is likely to focus on what needs to be done. They must be reminded of their obligations and that failure to meet them has consequences — for them as well as for the rest of us. As noted here, it is necessary to “send a clear message to senators across the country that they do not own the offices they hold. They might then learn that they will be called to account and replaced if they are not responsive to the party base.”

    That party base includes those in the tea party tent.

  18. Dan Miller |

    Further to my most recent comment, I did not write this article and disagree with parts but I wish I had written some of it. Generally, I agree that

    [T]he seemingly constant effort by the official GOP leadership to drive the party toward the center doesn’t really work to bring these voters on board. This is due to the simple fact that this supposed centrism isn’t usually going to be a shared framework of understanding. I firmly believe that what “moderates” respond to more than anything else is competency and leadership. If you display these traits, they will vote for you. If you are wishy-washy, won’t take a stand for anything, and give the appearance of weakness, they will abandon you.

    * * * *

    [T]he GOP is entering into this campaign season with little to nothing in the way of a consistent, articulate set of beliefs and plans. The base of the party and its conservative elected officials want the GOP to present a strong, internally consistent message of smaller government, greater liberty, and support for traditional values. The RINOs who infest too many positions of influence in the party are dead set on confusing and stifling that message.

    * * * *

    The problem with conservatives shying away from the cameras is two-fold. Not only do they not get their message out, but the RINOs end up being the “voice of the Republican Party.” When people see a Republican on television, that politician is quite often criticizing his or her own party, apologizing for the racism and ignorance of the party, or promising to reach across the aisle to help the Democrats with the next piece of liberty-stealing legislation.

  19. d |

    I just don’t think that racial equality or non discrimination,is in any way against the constitution. Futhermore,it states in the constitution,all men are created equal,does it not? Therefore, leading one to believe that not treating all men as equal is against the constitution. Says nothing about women,you might note,because we were considered as having no rights in the constitution. That is why it needs to be updated,in my opinion,women are at least, equal,if not, superior to men:)

  20. Brian Bagent |

    No, Doris, you’re thinking of the Declaration of Independence, as in “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”

    The federal government has, or should have if we are to have a limited government, only those powers specifically delegated by the constitution. Nowhere in the Constitution is it even remotely suggested that the federal government should undertake laws and efforts at social justice. In fact, if you’ll read the preamble to the constitution, you’ll see that the framers intended that the limitations on government, as specified within the body of the constitution, were intended as social justice.

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    It might even be a little easier to understand the intent if you read it as “We ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America because we believe that it will help form a more perfect union, establish justice…”

    The greatest form of social justice in existence is a free society. The more laws we have, the less freedom we have, the less social justice there will be.

  21. d |

    Doesn’t it insure tranquility,if we aren’t all a a bunch of racist pigs,and those who are,are told this is not acceptable?
    To insure domestic tranquility,and establish justice requires racial discrimination to be stopped, by some sort of laws,since,no, Brianna,we won’t all just hold hands and love each other. No matter how outraged you are by racial discrimination,a lot of people aren’t, and would certainly,go back to those ways,example,Rand Paul,in his honest slips of the tongue. Without Gov. interference it would be complete chaois. Not ever gonna convince me,Brian. You didn’t live through the civil rights movement,and before it,folks were not doing the right thing,black people,were killed and beaten routinely,for nothing more than looking at white people. Did we do the right thing, only when forced to. Racial discrimination would rapidly rear it’s ugly head, if there was no one there to tap it with a ruler.

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